1. A new pair of gloves. I prefer gloves without fiddly velcro flaps that seem to get caught on everything from my socks to my fleece jacket. Try some gloves with a knit wristlet, I’m partical to POC, check ’em out. Sadly the Nail Color glove model seems to be unavailable, but the Freeride looks to be a similar buy, what with a membrane liner, leather exterior and the knitted wristlet.
2. Upgrade to tech bindings. Nothing, I mean nothing would look better under the Christmas tree than a glowing orange anodized pair of ION bindings, or a ready-to-work pair of Dynafit Speed Radical. If your giftee is trad and perhaps a Dynafit fan they’ll probably like the Speed Radical. If they live on the edge of early adoption and want the latest, IONize their day. Direct shopping links:
Purchase Speed Radical
3. Oh, and they’ll need the boots to go with the bindings. This is where you might want to just hand over a gift certificate, as boot shopping is oh so personal. Boots they might be looking for:
Dynafit TLT 6
4. Get the budget down? How about socks? Yes we sound like a broken record, but the one and only ski sock worth being called a ski sock is the Darn Tough, all others should be recycled into mattress stuffing and U-haul cargo blankets. Read our review, with shopping links.
5. You are not a ski tourer unless you glisse with a thermos bottle. Plan here is it’s got to be light and just the right size to slip into your nice shiny new airbag rucksack. That means it can’t be too big. Thermoses wear out, dents compromise the vacuum layer. Thus, the perfect “repeat” gift. This half liter version from REI fits the bill. You can get cheapos at big-box stores, they usually work though performance can vary. Be sure to pre-heat with boiling water if you want your beverages to stay at max warmth for the entire day.
6. Aha, and speaking of pricey but perhaps the most caring gift you could give? We’d be talking about none other than an avalanche airbag backpack. We’re fans of BCA, not because they’re advertising partners, but because their airbag packs are tested, sufficiently lightweight and not priced out of the stratosphere. The Float 32 model is the best for true backcountry skiing, smaller versions don’t have enough volume for most folks. Check out our firstlook review as well.
7. Every skier I know experiences a shortage of straps. I’m not talking about suspenders for their jeans but those urethane ski straps otherwise known as “Voile straps” in honor of who first promulgated them. What you can do for a gift is shower the giftee with varietal strapage. Order a few pair of different lengths.
8. Cell phones are today’s pocket camera, but they’re not the best backcountry camera due to issues such as battery life and durability. If the receiver of your gift shower is not a pro photog, they might be very happy with the lightest and easiest to use compact camera we’ve come across, the Canon A1400. Check it out, pick up one, or two so you have one for yourself. Mine is still going strong after several years of abuse, and having an actual viewfinder is addictive. At current prices, this is a camera you don’t have to worry about getting lost or stolen. Check out our review.
9. Another stocking stuffer is the ubiquitous headlamp. You can’t have too many. One for the car, one for the backpack, one for the bedroom, one for each toolbox, one for your 2-year-old, one for your grandpa. My faves are usually Black Diamond brand models. One of the current best is the Storm model, replete with a red light option for preserving night vision, and an on/off switch lock so it won’t turn on accidentally in your pack (what a concept!). Shop for it here.
10. Give them some rope. If that ski mountaineer uses a rope for things like ski cutting, cornice dropping and just general all-around good safety sense, good on them. But, that means they wear out their ropes and always need new ones. Perfect gift. Beal Rando Glacier rope is a perfect 8 mm cord for skimo. Shop for it.
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.